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Prayer for the Presence of God

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
July 12, 2021 9:00 am

Prayer for the Presence of God

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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July 12, 2021 9:00 am

You can know plenty of facts about your favorite celebrity, but that’s completely different than knowing them personally. And the same is true of God.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Paul wants us to know the length and the height and the depth and the breadth of God's love because he knows that if we could get close to that love and sense that love that would be forever changed. He knows that our spiritual maturity depends on our perceiving with our hearts and feeling and sensing the love of God. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author and theologian, J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vadovich. I don't know about you, but growing up, I could tell you plenty of facts about my favorite TV star or musician. And quite frankly, I still can. But that's completely different than me actually knowing them personally. And the same is true of God. How do we move from memorizing facts to really experiencing God's presence? That's our subject today on Summit Life. And today is a special program as we'll, of course, hear solid biblical teaching from Pastor J.D. But you'll want to stick around to the end to hear an amazing testimony of how God transformed the life of a young lady in our church. Right now, we're in a series called Mystery and Clarity. So if you've missed any of the previous messages, you can find them all at J.D.

Greer dot com. Now here's Pastor J.D. with a message titled Prayer for the Presence of God. I wanted us to look together for a few minutes today at one of Paul's prayers that he prays in the book of Ephesians. We're in the middle of a study right now in Ephesians. And one of the things that you notice as you study is that Paul opens Ephesians and closes the doctrinal part of Ephesians with two of the most incredible prayers that you find anywhere in the Bible. Ephesians one through three is a deep doctrinal discussion where Paul shares some of the greatest and deepest truths in the Christian life.

And he puts those on either side of those. He puts these prayers where he prays that God would allow us to see and be able to grasp this truth. Let me read to you the second of these prayers, Ephesians chapter three. If you have your Bible, Ephesians three verse 14 is where Paul begins this. He says, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and the length and the height and the depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we could ask or think, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever.

Amen. Paul's prayer is that these Ephesian believers and for us that we would be able to see and to comprehend the things that he is teaching to us. You see, our problem is not that we don't know enough about the truth that God has revealed to us about his love.

Our problem is that we can't see it, that we can't feel it. You know, what a sermon is or what a sermon is supposed to be is when these truths that we already understand with our minds suddenly become real to our hearts, where the way Paul says it, where Christ is brought to bear on our hearts, where he dwells in our hearts. You know, the goal of a sermon or the difference, I would say, between a sermon and a lecture is in a lecture you leave with information. You leave with truth you didn't know.

You leave with action steps, things you need to go and change. In a sermon, in a real sermon, you leave not with knowledge, but you leave worshiping. You leave with a sense of who God is, a sense of his beauty and the size of his love. I'll tell you that in the last few years that I've been a pastor, that's one major thing that God has been changing to me as a pastor. I used to look at the goal of my preaching as being to try to communicate some truth people didn't know or give them some way to go change their life. Now my goal is that people leave worshiping. I don't want people to leave with a list of what they're supposed to go and do for God. I want them to leave with a sense of what God has done for them.

I want them to leave with a sense of the size and the glory and the majesty of God because I know that when they see that, I know that when they see God, that's when their hearts ignite and passion back for him. The only way that we develop the ability to say no to sin, the only way that we develop the ability to live victoriously and to live with faith and to live with passion is to have a sense of the great love of God for us. There was John Stott who said that the gospel of Jesus Christ is like a fire and if we can get close enough to it, the sparks that come off of that fire will light our own hearts in love for God. And that's what Paul is praying for here that we would be able to see and to feel and to feel the closeness of Christ and how real that he is. At one point in Ephesians, Paul said, he said, don't be drunk with wine, be filled with the Spirit. It's an interesting comparison because Paul is actually comparing the experience of being inebriated with alcohol to being filled with God's Spirit. I mean, to be honest, that's how you would describe your experience with Christ.

Could you even compare it to the sense of being so consumed with passion that it's almost like you're experiencing something that puts you out of your right mind? That is what Paul is praying that these believers and that we would sense and we would taste. We would see God and we would feel his love. Well, what is it exactly that he wants us to be able to see? Well, you see here in Ephesians 3, he's praying for them to be able to see basically two things.

The first one is that they would have a sense of the size of the love of Christ. The apostle Paul is not one, I have noticed, that is really given to exaggeration. Usually when Paul talks, he just says things very plainly and he basically says, I'm an apostle, so you shut up.

This is the truth. Here, Paul, in one of the few places, he just begins to really almost speak it hyperbole. Look at his language. He says, I want you to be able to sense the length and the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ. He doesn't know how to describe it. Then he says, it surpasses our knowledge and or even our ability to talk about.

That is what is what is what Paul is. He can't put it into words. He's like, if you could just sense how big the love of Christ is. Now, you know, he doesn't tell us what he means by length and depth and height and breadth.

But after studying this book a little bit, I think that it's actually kind of obvious what those descriptions, what they could refer to. You know, when he says the length of the love of Christ, well, that would be from all eternity. From the beginning of eternity, God chose us and he set his love on us and God will love us for all eternity. That's the length of the love of Christ. Then there is the height of the love of Christ.

That's, you know, as high as the heavens or above the earth. That's how great his love is for us. It's something that that blows our minds. We cannot imagine the tenderness and the compassion and the love that God feels for us.

It's higher than the heavens. Then there is the depth of the love of Christ. I think that's a reference to how deep God had to reach in order to be able to love us. His love was not just an intense passion for us.

It was a passion that even went deeper than our sin and the death and the hell and the corruption we brought upon ourselves. You know, when you when you fall in love with somebody, you just start to date them. One of the things that inevitably happens if you dated more than one person before you met your spouse is that you meet somebody that you like, but then there's something about them that suddenly comes to surface after your first two or three times dating them. And you're like, I don't want to deal with that. And so you walk away. You know, I guess that's appropriate in a dating relationship. That's sort of what it's for. But I notice it's totally different than how I feel about my kids. When my kids, when a fault comes to the surface in them, you know, I never like sit my oldest down and be like, sorry, Kara. It's just sitting working out. It's not you. It's me.

There's never any conversation like that. If anything, her faults make me love her more because she's my daughter. It's it's like my love is deeper than her faults. My love, my love intensifies when I see her weakness and and I want to be able to help her. That's what the love of Christ, Paul says.

That's what it is for us. It is a love that is is deep, deeper than our sin, that is is mightier than than our than our corruption and the weakness that we brought upon ourselves. Then he says the breath of the love of Christ. And I think again, he doesn't say this for sure, but I think that probably a reference to how much God controls in pursuit of his purposes in our life. Like we learned last week, God is sovereignly in control of everything. He's controlling what looks like dumb luck to us, where we are mistreated by others, even our own dumb decisions.

He is sovereignly in control of all of it because he is determined that he will make us to be a people to the praise of his glory and that he will reveal himself in us. That's what Paul wants us to know is the length and the height and the depth and the breadth of God's love, because he knows that if we could get close to that love and sense that love, that would be forever changed. He knows that our spiritual maturity depends on our perceiving with our hearts and feeling and sensing the love of God. I'll just tell you that if you're having trouble in your heart with loving Jesus, with living in a victorious way over temptation and sin, it's because that you haven't grasped and perceived the love of Christ in your heart.

Then he prays after love, he prays for them to have a perception of the power, the power that's at work within us, the power of resurrection. That's a power to bring life out of death, a power to overcome temptation. That's good news for many of us because I know many of you struggle with overcoming an addiction. For many of you, it's the struggle to be able to not be selfish in your relationships.

You've got a history of broken relationships. For many of you, it's power over some weakness. This assures you that God's power is so powerfully at work in you that he can overcome all your weakness and all your temptation.

It's a power to have victorious Christian ministry. He says you probably don't perceive how much God wants to do, not only in you, but God wants to do through you. God wants to do things around you that will blow your mind. He wants to answer your prayers in the presence of other people in a way that just makes them shake their head and say nobody but God could have done that. He says, I pray that you would perceive the power that is available to you. We talk here at this church all the time about how one of the things that is most tragic is unclaimed power that God has for us.

It's kind of like if you've ever seen one of those articles that talks about all the unclaimed money there is out there in credit agencies that people just neglected to go and take what was rightfully theirs. There's so much power that God wants to do in your family and in the place of your ministry. If you would just believe and if you would just perceive that power in its closeness and how willing God is to share it with you, that's what Paul prays for. It's interesting at the end of his prayer, he says to understand this and to perceive it, that is what puts the fullness of Christ in you. That's what it means to be filled with the Spirit is to perceive these things. A lot of times there's confusion we have about what's it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

What kind of weird experience is that? Well, Paul tells you. Paul says that experience is simply to know and to be able to taste the love of Christ inside of you.

When you perceive God's love for you and his power at work within you, that is the fullness of the Spirit. Finally, we see in the last verse, verse 21, that this is how God gets glory in the church. When the church is in a place and it becomes a place where people intimately know God's love and his power and they begin to demonstrate that, they begin to demonstrate and put on display that love and power, that's when God gets glory in the church. When we put that on display in our worship, people can see the beauty of Christ. When we put his generosity on display in our kindness toward one another, that's when God gets glory in our church. Someone I will tell you that what our community most needs, what they most need are not really insightful sermons by me.

They're not, you know, great music. They're not really anything except for they need the presence, the real presence of Christ. And where that presence comes from, where that sense of awe will take place in them is when there's a sense of awe that takes place in us. When we as a church stand in worship, it perceiving the love of Christ, which blows our minds.

It won't happen in them until it happens at us. And I know that for me personally, it won't happen in you until it happens in me and your other pastors and your leaders. And I think that Paul's prayer is something we need to pray. God, we want you to help us perceive the love of Christ. We want you to help us perceive the power of Christ so that when we get it, then the rest of our church will get it.

And when they get it, then our community gets it. And then suddenly there's a sense of the presence of God in our community. And when that happens, when that happens, that's when what God said would happen in Acts 2 will happen in our community. And God adds to our number daily, those that are being saved because a great sense of awe comes upon upon every soul. We're going to pray first of all, for the presence of God in our own lives, for an awareness of God's love, that it would be real to us, that we would weep because of it and be moved to genuine worship. And as some of you were so dry spiritually, that's what Paul is praying against. God, open our hearts and let us feel this.

After we pray for it for ourselves, I want us to pray for it in our church, for the presence of God to take place in our church so that when people walk in, whatever situation they come out of, no matter how far they are from God, that they would have a sense of the closeness and the love of God and His power that is able to help them with whatever need they have. They would sense His closeness, that people would have a sense that God is here. I've pointed out to you before, unbelievers love to be around Jesus. It's not because He didn't tell them hard things.

I mean, just read the Gospels. He was not Mr. Seeker sensitive, but it's because they sensed in Him love that they had never known and power that they'd never seen. And that's what we want people to sense in our midst. And we want to pray that our church would be attractive to people on the outside because they sense that love and our power. And then we're going to pray for it in our community. I want you to pray specifically for somebody that you know that is far from God. And I want you to pray that God will make His love and His power real to them, that He will make His presence, His beauty, His glory known to them.

All right, let me pray for you. Father, I pray in Jesus name, I pray that you would give us a sense of your nearness, a sense of your love and your power. I pray that you would take the blinders off our hearts so that the truths that we already know that we would be able to worship in those truths, we would rejoice in the love of Christ. Father, I pray for that to happen in our church and I pray for that to happen in our community.

God make us a place of beauty and grace and power and love. That only comes from being filled with your spirit. So I pray that right now in these moments you would fill us as we lift our faces to you and we call out for you. I pray in Jesus name. Fill us Lord with your spirit. A perfect prayer to cap off this important message today on Summit Life. To listen again to this message titled Prayer for the Presence of God or to share it with a friend, go to jdgrier.com. Well, if you're watching the clock, you might have noticed that we wrapped up the message a little earlier than usual and that's because we've set aside extra time for a conversation about one of the aspects of what it means to walk with God between Pastor JD and Stacy, who is a member of the Summit Church. We pray this story is an encouragement to you as you follow after God.

Let's listen in. So I happened to be coming off a night shift and was traveling to meet some friends and we were in the RDU airport and I brought along some reading materials. I'd been exploring religious outlets and of all natures. Because you're not a Christian at this point. I was not a Christian at this point.

I was very lost. But a gentleman who happened to be you was sitting a couple seats down and looked over and tapped me on the shoulder and usually just like, huh, interesting choice of titles there. And you asked if I'd been invited to a church. And I said, actually, yeah, I have a great coworker who I love who's a Christian and has invited me numerous times to a church in the area. I don't remember the name, but it's one of those big mega churches.

There's like some mountains in the background of the emblem, I think. But other than that, I don't remember much. And you were like, oh, interesting.

Like, well, if you thought about going. And I went on probably a two to three minute rant about mega churches and how awful they are. And you just looked at me pretty expressionless and said, you know, I'm sorry you've had that experience with churches or that impression. And you just said, you know, I encourage you to continue to talk to your friend and others in your life and really make sure you're exploring Christianity as one of your searches here. And I just kind of like, okay, and went on about my life for the next several weeks. And my friend actually invited me to the summit again. The words resonated with like, well, I encourage you to just try one more time before you make your final call. And so I went and then they introduced Pastor J.D.

Greer to start the sermon. And you walk out in front and I have never wanted to be less seen. I definitely had that. I really inserted my foot in my mouth that day.

And then what happened after that? Because you didn't become a Christian that week. I did not become a Christian that weekend. What had started several years prior was family praying for me, with me, over me and me thinking it was ridiculous. It started really just softening my heart. It's things like that that make you understand and believe in God's pursuit of you. He was looking for you before you were looking for Him.

Exactly. And it's so clear to me now, looking back, that He put so many people in my life along the way that just stepped out of their own comfort zones and approached me when, again, I just was so hurt and broken. They saw past that and they saw that He loved me and they loved on me through that. So one thing I am curious about through the moments of tapping, grumpy-looking me in the morning on the shoulder, I feel like in my day-to-day life sometimes crossing those lines and reaching out to people in that way can be really scary and nerve-wracking.

How have you gotten to where you're so comfortable doing that? Well, I don't know if I would say that. I would say that, you know, I understand. I read this thing years ago that essentially walking with God means that every day you get up and join Him in what He is already doing.

So one of the things I pray in the morning is, God, take me to people that you're already working in so that I can play a part of that. And I'm not sure what it was then. I mean, it was probably the book you were reading and it all had something to do with atheism and thought that's not a good direction to go.

So let me ask her about it. For every one conversation that turns out like this one, there's probably a dozen that don't really go anywhere. But it's an exciting thing to think that the Spirit of God is doing. He is seeking people and I get a chance to be, you know, to be a small part of that. Where does it look like God is working around you?

Join Him there. That's what walking with God and following the Holy Spirit looks like. So JD, if we're going to walk with God, we have to know Him, just like you emphasized in your message today. And that's really the basis for the whole series called Mystery and Clarity, right? Well, Molly, this is an older teaching series. In fact, I think you might have been in, I don't know, preschool maybe when I taught this one. But what we do is we open up the book of Ephesians. I'm just kidding. It wasn't that long ago.

And I mean, you're young, but not that young. But Ephesians is one of the most powerful books in the New Testament. I've actually taught through it more than once here. There's so much, so much truth in literally every word you could spend several days, you know, just peering into it. We hold up the mystery and the majesty of the gospel to show that no matter how long we go in Christ, how far we travel that road, that there's still a mystery of how great His love is and how incredible His plan is and how for all of eternity we will, like the angels, kind of stand in wonder at the grace and mercy and the glory of our God. But there's also clarity.

There's clarity about who God is and what He wants from us. And, you know, the gospel is simple enough that a child can understand it. The gospel is also majestic enough that the greatest theologian spending all of his time or her time looking at it is never going to get anywhere close. When you feel overwhelmed by the depth of the gospel, I've heard it described like if you're at the ocean and you get just a little bit too deep and you suddenly feel like the water's over your head and you're like, oh, it's so deep. Of course, you know, just a couple miles farther out and it's going to be in some places, you know, a couple miles deep.

And so your perception of overwhelming depth is not reflective at all of just the incredible depth of the ocean that's there. That's how that's how you encounter the love of God in the book of Ephesians. We want to walk you verse by verse to this book. And so we do what we do a lot, and that is create a Bible study that will help take you deeper at the same time as you listen to these messages.

If there's any book of the Bible that you could profit from a chance to ponder and go deeper, it's going to be the book of Ephesians. To take a look, reserve your copy right now. Just go to J.D.

Guare.com. Thank you so much, J.D. And to help you get a better understanding of God's love for you and who you are in light of that, we'd like to send you a copy of our exclusive Summit Life Mystery and Clarity Bible Study. It comes with our thanks when you donate to support this ministry at the suggested level of $25 or more. From beginning to end, the book of Ephesians shows us the wonder of God's grace and the pattern of life transformation the gospel produces.

It's divided perfectly into two halves that provide a structure as we study. Chapters one through three provide doctrine, your gospel identity, and chapters four through six are practical, your gospel life, as you might say. Those things make it a great book to walk through in a study. You'll definitely want to get a hold of this resource that we've created just for you. Ask for your copy of our new nine-session study, Mystery and Clarity, the book of Ephesians, when you call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or request the study when you give online at J.D. Guare.com.

That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R.com. If you'd rather mail your donation and request for the study, our address is J.D. Greer Ministries, P.O.

Box 122-93, Durham, North Carolina, 277-09. I'm Molly Vitovich. Be sure to join us Tuesday as Pastor J.D. emphasizes how we all have to grow up.

We can't be spiritual babies forever. We'll see you tomorrow right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 16:03:50 / 2023-08-17 16:14:24 / 11

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